Tag Archives: telematics service provider

Connected Car Data: Moving Past the Hype

It is still early in the evolution of collecting and using mobile data from drivers and their vehicles, but many large industries with huge stakes in the outcome are participating and paying close attention.

The Current Conundrum: Many Contestants, Few Prizes

Formed in 1995 as a collaboration between GM, Electronic Data Systems and Hughes Electronics, OnStar was almost certainly the grandfather of the connected car. In 2002, Progressive insurance and General Motors Acceptance Co. partnered to introduce the first usage-based insurance (UBI) program in the U.S. Using GPS and cellular phone tracking capabilities, the Snapshot program offered discounts to low-mileage drivers on the program. What followed – and continues to evolve exponentially – was an explosion of business models, technologies and programs for use in the insurance and commercial fleet industries, with applications ranging from underwriting, claims and fraud to accident management, driver safety and behavioral modification.

While the earlier and still prevalent telematics programs rely on a small communications device connected to the vehicle on-board diagnostic (OBD) port, the proliferation of smartphones has enabled the elimination of these device costs and provided more convenient mobile solutions. In addition, car makers have begun installing software and communications in new-model vehicles, which further simplifies the user experience and expands program capabilities, integrating them into dashboard screen interfaces. By 2020, more than 90% of new cars will transmit telematics data, according to the Auto Care Association. More recently, intermediary technology providers known as telematics service providers (TSPs) have emerged to offer consumers and insurance carriers turnkey connected car programs, and several industry information providers have introduced telematics data exchanges (TDEs), which consolidate drive and vehicle data from a variety of car makers and provide insurers with uniform, normalized data.

This connected car evolution from OBD to embedded to mobile to hybrid is enabling more than just new insurance products; it is transforming the business of auto insurance. Automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), insurers, TSPs, telcos and information providers all seek to monetize the exploding streams of connected car data – but no universal or dominant models have emerged as yet.

Secret to Success: Partnerships

The emergence of insurtechs, with their innovative application of new technologies to solve age-old insurance challenges, along with the implied threat of those solutions to traditional insurers has dramatically changed the way insurance executives think about partnerships. Today, strategic technology-centered partnerships are enabling insurers to transform their core processes and expand into more markets than ever before. In fact, many of the largest carriers have formed or joined dedicated insurtech venture capital funds and accelerators, whose portfolios potentially represent a double win, financially and in process improvement.

In the area of the Internet of Things, of which connected car is a major subset, inter-industry partnerships and alliances are critical – indeed mandatory – for success. Even one-time competitors are seen to collaborate where both parties do better together than separately.

Partnerships between ecosystem participants are inevitable, and desirable – with each segment leveraging its core strengths and expertise in support of mutual business objectives and their common customers. In the case of connected cars, those are the owners, drivers and passengers as well as the policyholders.

See also: 5 Steps to a Connected Car Strategy  

Aligning Interests by Focus on the Common Customer

By focusing on the common customer, each participating segment partner can “win,” defined as achieving their primary strategic objectives. In the case of auto insurers, winning means improving and strengthening the customer experience and relationship while improving underwriting and operating results. For car makers, winning means lowering the total cost of ownership for car buyers – a fundamental strategic objective that has recently emerged – and reinforcing brand loyalty with car buyers and owners. Furthermore, lowering total cost of ownership is a strategic objective that auto insurers embrace, as well.

For intermediaries such as TSPs and TDEs, winning means adding significant value to existing relationships with insurance company clients and adding new customer segments and product revenue streams to their businesses while lifting and reinforcing brand recognition across all segments.

And let’s not forget one more important reality – every connected car program, regardless of the participants, requires acceptance by the same common customer.

Solving the “Many to Many” Challenge

With the increase of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), connected cars and the emergence of autonomous vehicles, data experts, along with OEMs, insurers, brokers and agents, are joining forces to bundle whole-life vehicle costs together to offer new mobility solutions such as car subscriptions, car sharing and other short-term vehicle use models to appeal to changing consumer needs.

The challenge presented by this proliferation lies in the wide range of devices and the variations in hardware and software technologies that are broadcasting data in non-standard structures. This lack of uniformity presents what LexisNexis Risk Solutions calls the “many-to-many” challenge. The torrent of inconsistent data from disparate data sources presents numerous serious impediments to consumer program portability and driver scoring calculations and will eventually impede market confidence and growth of these programs.

How this data is managed and converted from raw driving data into reliable rateable factors for use by auto insurers is crucial in determining how OEMs and insurers will collaborate to support the future of connected car programs for consumers within both insurance and auto industries.

The solution that presents itself is a central hub that is capable of ingesting, cleansing and contextualizing driving data regardless of data source to resolve the many-to-many problem. With access to the entire insurance market for both insurers and OEMs, the potential exists to ultimately transform the mobility-insurance market into one connected ecosystem to the benefit of all participants – including consumers.

Telematics Data Exchanges to the Rescue

As connected car programs continue to evolve, the challenge insurers will increasingly face is that the number of sources and collection methods for telematics data will continue to grow as programs evolve and all of the resulting data will need to be standardized. Telematics data exchanges, such as the LexisNexis Telematics Exchange, are able to help insurers and OEMs navigate evolving technology by providing them with normalized data and advanced insights that are most relevant in growing their business.

To succeed, these telematics data exchanges will have to be developed and managed by trusted, well-established information providers that already do business with a majority of insurers, that have a deep understanding of the automotive industry, that have sophisticated and powerful data processing assets and that have a culture of innovation as well as a corporate commitment to data privacy and security. When you consider all of these qualifications, there are really only small handful of companies that qualify.

See also: Advanced Telematics and AI  

Telematics data exchange providers enable insurers, auto manufacturers and drivers to benefit from the evolution of UBI programs. These platforms provide insurers with driver scores through a single point of entry and leverage existing system integrations, regardless of each customer’s data collection preference. They also enable OEMs to collect and seamlessly integrate vehicle data into insurers’ existing UBI programs. In addition, auto manufacturers can gain valuable insights, improve return on investment (ROI) and access data analytics expertise that provides them speed to market to provide value-added products and services to their customers. OEMs will also have a practical opportunity to encourage safe driving and enhance customer ownership experiences.

Everyone Wins

In summary, professional management of connected car data and the wide variety of telematics solutions will enable consumers to confidently share their driving scores across a range of carriers and maximize the benefits of participation in current and future programs.

In addition, it will allow the claims process to evolve from its current state to instant crash notification, touchless claims and eventually to claims mitigation. Telematics data exchanges will help to build customers’ loyalty to their chosen carrier and OEM brands. Additionally, a telematics exchange will enable participants to innovate and quickly execute by providing the vital ingredients and processes required to fast-track transformation at scale and deliver real value to customers. Successful telematics exchanges will bring together OEMs and insurers for the benefit of consumers in their seamless digital lives.

The authors wrote this article in the run-up to the Connected Claims USA Summit in Chicago, where both spoke this week. 

How to Remove the Roadblock for UBI

Once upon a time, the auto insurance industry relied on motor vehicle reports, drivers’ records, business addresses, financial credit reports, claims histories, policyholder-stated VIN and mileage information, etc. to make an underwriting and rating decision. This scant information provided a fuzzy picture of risk, at best, so insurers built in a pricing cushion to protect against losses and figured it all out at the end of the year.

Fast forward to today, and insurers have volumes of real-world driving data at their fingertips to inform more precise underwriting and pricing. With the proliferation of telematics devices, whether after-market or factory-installed, and mobile tracking and recording apps, we now can know where, when and how an individual vehicle is driven. We can know area and hours of operation, driving behavior, route histories, vehicle performance characteristics and much, much more. We can even re-create collisions using the data.

With data-driven usage-based insurance (UBI), we now can formulate a clear picture of driving risk and remove the guesswork. In short, we have the potential to write for a group of one, based on observable, verifiable data.

Some numbers to consider:

  • Currently nearly 30% of all commercial vehicles have some form of telematics device installed. This figure is expected to reach 70% in 2017. (C.J. Driscoll & Associates)
  • Today’s telematics devices record nearly 300 billion miles of driving data annually.
  • 94% of all small businesses report using smartphones in their businesses. (2014 AT&T-SBE Council Small Business Technology Poll)
  • Approximately 30 auto manufacturers (original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs) are busily equipping vehicles with data devices today.
  • More than 70 telematics service provider (TSP) fleet management services companies in the U.S. are equipping trucks, cars and utility vehicles with telematics.
  • More than half of small fleet managers are likely to stay with their current insurance carriers if their insurer offers UBI (Lexis Nexis’ 2015 Commercial Usage-Based Insurance Study)
  • Global sales of insurance telematics products are projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 80% from 2013-2018, and the subscriber base is expected to reach 85.5 million in 2018. (Research & Markets).

We are quickly reaching a tipping point for UBI programs that rely on data collection and analysis as the basis for a “pay how you drive” approach to auto insurance.

However, insurers looking to take advantage of this driving data face some tough questions: Where does all this data come from? How is it collected? How can different data sets be normalized? How can insurers store, analyze and manage such a huge volume of data?

The solution for insurers large and small very likely will be a telematics data clearinghouse.

Multiple Data Sources: OEMs, TSPs, Mobile Apps and More

The first problem insurers face is negotiating with 70 different TSPs and 30 OEMs for their data, which adds complexity, time and expense to the process of acquiring the driving data needed for an effective UBI program. A clearinghouse solves the problem of accessing data on millions of vehicles by aggregating data from available sources. Rather than negotiate with dozens of data suppliers, an insurance carrier merely subscribes to the clearinghouse for access to all of that data, at a single price. 

Multiple Formats: Not All Data Is the Same

With so many data sources, each using different telematics devices and software, pulling data from different types of vehicles, the aggregated data is a jumble of formats, with no two data sets the same. A clearinghouse plays a critical part in scrubbing, authenticating and normalizing this data for handoff to underwriting.

Making Big Data Digestible… One Byte at a Time

UBI represents a monstrously big IT effort for an individual insurer. With nearly 300 billion miles of driving data available, we’re talking about petabytes of data to acquire and analyze. Even the largest insurers must weigh the benefits of devoting precious IT resources to developing and running a complete UBI data collection, storage and analysis effort. In contrast, a clearinghouse is built to manage big data in a big way, delivering a clean, authenticated data set to the insurer, integrated seamlessly into the underwriting process for easy access and use.

Evolution of a Safe-Driving Scoring Standard

With access to data from millions of vehicles, a clearinghouse is also able to provide comparative analytics and calculate a fleet’s safe-driving score, the driving equivalent of a FICO financial credit score and a much more accurate predictor of risk. A complement to current driver score cards offered by many TSPs (which measure individual driving behaviors such as speeding, harsh braking and hard cornering), a fleet score factors in all drivers, as well as the vehicles they drive and the environment in which they drive. The fleet score analyzes variables including weather, time of day, road surface and traffic dynamics. An overall fleet safety score compares fleets of similar SIC codes and territories to derive an indexed score and ranking – a meaningful risk assessment and underwriting tool more powerful than anything else in use today.

Data Privacy and Protection: Permission-Based

Yet another crucial role played by a clearinghouse is data protection and privacy. Clearly, the vehicle owner owns the data generated by that vehicle in the course of a driving trip. But once it is in the UBI transaction chain, how is that data protected? Who sees it, and what is done with it? The clearinghouse serves as gatekeeper. With the consent of the vehicle owner/policyholder, the clearinghouse facilitates the secure sharing of encrypted data with the insurer, allowing the data owner to control who sees the data and why. Such protection encourages voluntary participation by vehicle owners, helping fuel the growth of UBI. 

Data Transparency and Portability: You CAN Take It with You

Data transparency and portability go hand-in-hand with data ownership. As a consent-based data sharing service, the clearinghouse offers complete transparency to the data owner. The vehicle owner knows what data is being requested and has the option of permitting or denying access. The clearinghouse allows the data owner to share his data and driving safety score with multiple insurers.

Data Clearinghouse or Data Exchange: What’s the Difference?

Aggregated driving data services are taking different forms. While all share the purpose of providing a “one-stop” storehouse of driving and vehicle data, they do not all operate in the same manner or provide the same services.

The primary distinction can be explained as an open marketplace vs. a closed system.

As an open market, a clearinghouse merely facilitates the transfer of data from vehicle owner or TSP to insurer. The insurer then underwrites a policy based on this data (and other factors the insurer deems important) and determines a policy premium. In this open system, there are no regulatory filings required; data is used in the insurer’s existing underwriting process, and the insurer retains complete control over pricing, applying credits as warranted. Furthermore, the marketplace determines the value of the data: How much is an insurer willing to pay for detailed trip histories, for example?

In contrast, an exchange uses driving and vehicle data to compute a rating and pricing recommendation for the insurer. Because the exchange is determining price, this rating system must be filed with state regulators. In this closed system, the exchange assumes the role of underwriter and pricing specialist, leaving the insurer with little room for proprietary pricing, segmentation or differentiation. The exchange controls the data and the insurance product.

Data-Driven, UBI: A Return to Profitable Auto Underwriting

UBI offers auto insurance carriers an unprecedented view of vehicle use and driving behavior. Insurers that embrace UBI and develop a data-driven underwriting and ratings process will benefit from more consistent underwriting, improved segmentation and better selection. Those that do not will likely suffer from adverse selection and an underperforming book of business.

The key to successful UBI adoption will be access to, normalization of and correct interpretation of all this data. Undoubtedly, auto insurance carriers will be hearing more about the clearinghouse concept and the pivotal role it plays in UBI.